This week we remember victims of gun violence, both those who have died and those who are left to mourn. The Episcopal Church has called for laws that reduce the threat of gun violence (see the diocesan website, https://episcopaliansinconnection.org/gun-violence/.
Bishops United Against Gun Violence wrote a letter to Episcopalians in response to the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, available at https://bishopsagainstgunviolence.org/news_release/the-epidemic-of-gun-violence-now-threatens-our-democracy-a-letter-from-bishops-united/ calling for prayer, accountability, and an end to racial disparity in policing.
This year Gun Violence Prevention Week focuses on the experiences of surviving victims of gun violence. Some of the compelling stories of Ohio victims are shared here.
As we recognize the toll of gun violence on our communities, consider these facts:
- 38,000 Americans die each year as a result of gun violence – that’s an average of over 100 per day
- Americans are 25 times more likely to be killed by a gun than in other comparable nations. We have the weakest gun laws and the most guns (393 Million) than other comparable nation
- The majority of gun deaths are by suicide (61%). Access to guns triples suicide risk, with 51% of suicides involving guns.
- Guns are the second-leading cause of death in children under 18 years of age.
- Domestic violence victims are five times more likely to be killed by abusers if they have access to a gun.
- Someone is killed by a gun every six hours.
- There are nearly 1,500 gun deaths per year.
- Ohio has followed the lead of an increasing number of states in weakening gun safety laws, including the recently passed “Stand Your Ground Law” that allows an individual to shoot if they feel threatened, without any responsibility for first trying to retreat from the situation.
The Diocese of Missouri is hosting a Lenten Series on Violence Prevention on Tuesdays, beginning Feb. 16, 2021, 7:30-9 pm ET. The Province V newsletter describes the series this way: “The level of gun violence and deaths reached historic proportions in 2020, both locally and nationally. Many of us are struggling to understand the causes and what we might do as people of faith to curb this ongoing tragedy.
Each Other’s Keeper: The Church’s Response to Violence is a web-based curriculum developed to engage individuals and groups in this discussion and created by The Rev. Marc D. Smith, Ph.D., Bishop’s Deputy for Violence Prevention in the Diocese of Missouri and Priest Associate at the Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion in University City. He will be leading a Lenten study of violence in Scripture and American culture based on this curriculum on six consecutive Tuesdays (7:30 – 9:00 P.M. ET) beginning February 16. There is no fee, but registration is required at https://www.diocesemo.org/blog/diocesan-lenten-program-each-others-keeper/